437 Belatora

    Nix and Wind sat on the balcony of the suite they rented at the Charred Oxen Inn.  Unexpectedly, the inn catered to the wealthy and not normal travelers.  The rooms were all suites and very expensive, since there were four of them Nix decided on a four-bedroom suite. There was still an hour or two before sunset, the two men enjoyed a drink while they talked about the mission.

    "Where's Darsi," Wind asked?

    "I'm assuming she is staying wherever Aledo is.  Let's check for sure."

    [Direct Contact: Darsi]

    A life-sized holo of Darsi appeared on the balcony.

    "Hey, Trip-7."

    Nix could see that she was in a room of some sort.  "Where are  you?"

    "The Iron Boar in Zags.  I watched Aledo and his group come into town, they are staying here also.  They changed into army uniforms just outside of town."

    "We need to find out of he's playing both sides or supporting the rebel forces."  Nix considered the situation for a moment before making a decision. "I'm going to send Ducky in.  What room are you in?"

    "Room 22 on the second floor.  Going to grab a bite to eat, so tell her to look in the dining area if I don't answer the door."

    "Thanks, Darsi.  Join us tomorrow, we'll make contact with General Remis then."

    Darsi nodded.  "Got it."

    Nix closed com and then summoned Ducky.  The Water Witch was wearing a blue dress that matched her hair.  She smiled at the pair and hugged Nix from behind.

    "Special mission?"

    Nix nodded.  "We intercepted some caravan raiders earlier today, although we didn't engage them their identities turned out to be soldiers rather than rebels."

    Ducky pursed her lips slightly.  "Maybe they are trying to make the rebellion look bad?"

    "There are a few possibilities, which is why I want you to question Aledo Remis."

    "Sure.  What can you tell me about him?"

    "He's the son of General Remis.  It was Aledo that was leading the raid today.  Find out everything you can."

    Ducky nodded.  "Where is he?"

    "He's in Zagingba, which is slightly southwest of here."  Nix pulled up his hud and zoomed out until he found the city.  "Locals call it Zags, Darsi is staying at the Iron Boar room 22, our target is staying at the same inn."

    Ducky studied the hud for a moment and then stepped away. "I'll bring Fey if that's okay."

    "Sure, want me to summon her?"

    Ducky shook her head.  "I'll do it when I get outside of town."

    Nix stared at her for a moment.  "You can summon Fey?"

    Ducky nodded slightly. "Fey and Soup, but not  Morti."

    Nix's face creased into a smile.  "I didn't know that.  Can you summon me?"

    Ducky returned his smile and hugged him tight before stepping back.  "No, only Shae and Morti can do that."

    Nix watched the Water Witch walk away, they used to spend more time together when he lived in the Sea World.

    Wind watched the interactions without comment.  He had the King, which was the ultimate trump card.  It would be nice to pick up a few more companions.   "I've seen Shae summon you, but I didn't realize Morti could do it."

    Nix shrugged. "Neither did I."  He could sense that his bond with the Titan cub was constantly growing stronger.  Recently, when they grouped together, Nix received strength and stamina boosts while Morti's elemental resistances climbed upward.  "Doesn't surprise me, because of his age we formed a closer connection."

    Wind turned his chair slightly and placed his feet on the rail.  "Think Ronnie and Bali are staying out of trouble?"

    Nix grinned and shook his head. "How would that be possible?"


    The two companions walked down the boardwalk leading away from the Belatora market.  Several stares from both men and women followed them.  One was a slender archer with dark skin, her hips swayed from side to side when she walked and she wore a bright smile on her face that seemed to welcome conversation.  Her companion was nearly a head shorter, her platinum blond hair held up in a ponytail, pretty blue eyes filled with mischief were constantly darting as if she felt the need to see everything.

    "They don't sell any art supplies here."  Bali bit her lower lip.  "I'm going to make a new painting of Captain Locas."

    Ronnie threw an arm around the ranger's shoulder.  "Locas has a girlfriend now."

    Bali shrugged, she kept sketches of both Nix and Locas next to her bed.  She admired both of them but never really considered why.  "Locas needed a girlfriend, sooner or later I would have stepped up, maybe in a year or two."

    Ronnie nodded knowingly.  Her friend didn't have experience with either gender, but she wasn't shy about expressing her feelings.  "Woah... check that out."

    Bali stumbled slightly, pulled off balance by Ronnie's grip.  She turned in the direction her best friend was pointing to.  "Horses?"

    A team of horses pulling luxurious looking coach pulled up next to the Inn where they were staying.  Their black coats shined in the late afternoon sun,  rippling muscles moved just beneath the surface.

    Ronni stared at the horses, her smile widening.  "Those look fast, right?"

    Bali shook her head and pointed to a nearly identical team just ahead of them.  "I think the brown ones look stronger and that coach is a bit sleeker."

    Ronnie frowned at her friend and walked to the side of the coach.  "No driver."

    Bali nodded in agreement.  "Brakes on, the driver must be helping with the bags?"

    "A disagreement between friends... only one way to handle it."  Ronnie extended her hand toward the Dhassi Ranger.

    Bali shook the offered hand.  "It's a race."


    Nix fell asleep under the comforting rays of the last few minutes of sun, it was Wind who shook him away a few hours later.

    "Someone's at the door, Nix."  Wind rubbed his eyes slightly, it was obvious he'd logged some bunk time.

    [Whisper: Nix to Ronnie] Where are you?

    Ronnie may not be contacted at this time.

    "They hell?"

    [Whisper: Nix to Bali] Where are you?

    Bali may not be contacted at this time.

    Nix checked their guild status, both were listed as unavailable.

    "Looks like the dynamic duo is in trouble."  Nix motioned for Wind to follow as he walked toward the door.

    The door opened to reveal the innkeeper.  A portly gentleman with a bald head and hairy forearms. "Mr. Nix!"

    Nix kept his face free of expression.  "Yes?"

    "Sorry to bother you, sir.   One of our patrons saw the town guard arrest two of your party members a short while ago."

    Nix frowned suddenly.  "Arrested?  Where would they be held?"

    "The city jail is located on Inger Street sir.  If you exit the inn, the third right will bring you to it."

    "Thank you, I'll take care of it."    Nix led Wind passed the Innkeeper and headed toward the stairs.

    /Alpha: Wind: What do you think they did?

    /Alpha: Nix: You kidding?  With those two it could be anything.

    /Alpha: Wind: What are you going to do?

    /Alpha: Nix: Get them released.

    /Alpha: Wind: What if they won't release them?

    /Alpha: Nix: Not an option.

    Nix laughed aloud when he saw the jail.

    /Alpha: Wind: What's so funny?

    /Alpha: Nix: The jailhouse is made of wood.

    By the time they arrived at the jail, the streets were mostly deserted.  The large wooden paneled door screeched in protest when Nix pushed it open.  Two men were sitting at table playing cards when Wind and Nix entered the jail.

    "We're closed.  Come back tomorrow."  The man who spoke was a thin man wearing blue robes, Nix sensed immediately that he was a water mage.

    Nix ignored the words and walked forward.  "Two women from the Inferno Guild have been arrested.  I will pay all damages and you will release them at once."

    The larger of the two men stood up,  he had long thick arms that nearly reached his knees.  "You deaf or something?  We don't open until the morning!"  His deep voice raised above a polite level.  "Get the ** out before I break your arms and tear..."

    The sentence was interrupted when Nix's booted foot kicked him in the chest, sending the guard flying backward into the walk with a loud boom that shook the building.  Nix raised one hand and six emerald strands wrapped around the water mage, pinning his arms against his body.  He slammed the mage against the ceiling and then against the floor before flinging him against the same wall that his unconscious friend bounced off.

    Wind picked up a binder that was resting on the desk.  "Looks like the incident report."

    Nix glanced at the two men on the floor.  He had the feeling that the larger man was faking in order to preserve his dignity.  "Charges?"

    "Theft of transports, endangering citizens, property damage, and resisting arrest."  Wind smiled when he read the list.  "Not a bad evening."

    Nix spotted the door leading to the cells.  "Stay here and keep an eye on those two.  I'll find the girls."

    "Nix!"  Ronnie jumped up from her bunk and gripped the bars in her hands when she saw the Inferno Guild Leader.  Bali was sitting on the floor with her head on her knees, she got up slowly when she heard the door open.

    "Hey, Boss."  Bali offered him a slight smile and stood beside Ronnie.

    [Aura Ignition]

    Emerald flames erupted around Nix, the two prisoners backed up against the far wall as he leaned against the locked door.  The latching mechanisms immediately melted and Nix kicked the door open with one foot.  He dropped his aura a moment later and gestured for them to exit.

    Ronnie kissed him on the cheek when she went by him, her face was devoid of a smile for once.  "They hit her, Nix."

    Nix stopped Bali when she tried to pass him, there was a large hand-shaped bruise on her face.  "You resist?"

    Bali shook her head. "He did that after I was shackled.  Just cause I said not to pick Ronnie up by the hair."

    Ronnie smoothed back her dark hair and scowled.  "We messed up, when they caught us we surrendered properly.  Those guys were a bit rough but we're fine."

    Nix nodded.  "Drag those two guards from the next room into the street and then stay out there."

    Nix waited while the two men were removed.  They were both awake but neither offered any sort of resistance.  The water mage had a look of stark terror in his eyes, he realized he was facing a monstrous fire user.

    /Alpha: Wind: All done boss. Are you coming?

    /Alpha: Nix: Know what I hate about prisons?

    /Alpha: Ronnie: The smell?

    /Alpha: Bali: Bad food?

    Nix shook his head.  "Everything."

    [Raging Ignition: Fury Flames]
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